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2000 Census: Actions Taken to Improve the Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center Programs

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the Bureau of the Census' Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Center programs, focusing on the steps the Bureau has taken to address certain shortcomings that the Bureau encountered during the dress rehearsal for the 2000 Census."
Date: February 25, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Analysis of Fiscal Year 2000 Amended Budget Request

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Bureau of the Census' fiscal year (FY) 2000 budget, focusing on: (1) an overall analysis of the key changes in assumptions resulting in the $1.7 billion request increase; (2) details on the components of this increase and which changes, according to the bureau, are related and which are not related to the inability to use statistical sampling; and (3) the process the bureau used for developing the increase in the original FY 2000 budget request and the amended budget request."
Date: September 22, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Analysis of Fiscal Year 2000 Budget and Internal Control Weaknesses at the U.S. Census Bureau

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "In September 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau told Congress that it had at least $305 million in budget savings out of its $4.5 billion fiscal year 2000 no-year appropriations for the 2000 decennial census. Of the $4.5 billion appropriated to the U.S. Census Bureau in fiscal year 2000, lower-than-expected expenditures and obligations resulted in available balances of at least $415 million. A lower-than-expected support staff workload reduced salary and benefit costs by about $348 million. Enumerator workload is largely determined by the initial mail response rate for returned census questionnaires. The initial mail response of 64 percent meant that Census enumerators did not have to visit more than three million American households. However, the available balances from the higher mail response rate and the lower support staff workload were partially offset by about $100 million of higher salary and benefit costs for enumerators, including a higher workload for unanticipated recounts. According to Bureau data, enumerator productivity did not significantly affect budget variances for the 2000 decennial census. The Bureau reported the national average time to visit a household and complete a census questionnaire was about the one hour estimated. Because of significant internal control weaknesses, the Bureau was unable to develop and report complete, accurate, and timely information for managing decision-making. Specific control weaknesses for fiscal year 2000 were related to the lack of controls over financial reporting and financial management systems. Financial reporting issues included (1) the inability to produce accurate and timely financial statements and other financial management reports needed for oversight and day-to-day management; (2) the lack of timely and complete reconciliations needed to validate the balances of key accounts; and (3) unsupported and inaccurate reported balances for accounts payable and undelivered orders--two ...
Date: December 28, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Answers to Hearing Questions on the Status of Key Operations

Description: Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the status of the Bureau of the Census' key census operations, focusing on: (1) whether the Bureau followed GAO's recommendations and adopted an alternate form of contingency planning instead of relying on Congress for a supplemental appropriation; (2) why the census is such a local endeavor; (3) whether the Bureau will be able to translate the high level of public awareness into participation for the 2000 Census; (4) whether partnership specialists will be stretched too thinly to have a successful impact on the 2000 Census; (5) the challenges facing the Bureau in conducting a timely and accurate followup; (6) how the Bureau could intentionally or unintentionally cut corners to get the nonresponse follow-up workload done in a shorter period of time; and (7) the risks that could jeopardize the release of timely data."
Date: May 31, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Best Practices and Lessons Learned for More Cost-Effective Nonresponse Follow-up

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Nonresponse follow-up--in which Census Bureau enumerators go door-to-door to count individuals who have not mailed back their questionnaires--was the most costly and labor intensive of all 2000 Census operations. According to Bureau data, labor, mileage, and administrative costs totaled $1.4 billion, or 22 percent of the $6.5 billion allocated for the 2000 Census. Several practices were critical to the Bureau's timely competition of nonresponse follow-up. The Bureau (1) had an aggressive outreach and promotion campaign, simplified questionnaire, and other efforts to boost the mail response rate and thus reduce the Bureau's nonresponse follow-up workload; (2) used a flexible human capital strategy that enabled it to meet its national recruiting and hiring goals and position enumerators where they were most needed; (3) called on local census offices to identify local enumeration challenges, such as locked apartment buildings and gated communities, and to develop action plans to address them; and (4) applied ambitious interim "stretch" goals that encouraged local census offices to finish 80 percent of their nonresponse follow-up workload within the first four weeks and be completely finished by the end of the eighth week, as opposed to the ten-week time frame specified in the Bureau's master schedule. Although these initiatives were key to meeting tight time frames for nonresponse follow-ups, the Bureau's experience in implementing them highlights challenges for the next census in 2010. First, maintaining the response rate is becoming increasingly expensive. Second, public participation in the census remains problematic. Third, the address lists used for nonresponse follow-up did not always contain the latest available information because the Bureau found it was infeasible to remove many late-responding households. Fourth, the Bureau's stretch goals appeared to produce mixed results. Finally, there are questions about how reinterview ...
Date: February 11, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Better Productivity Data Needed for Future Planning and Budgeting

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Nonresponse follow-up was the most expensive and labor-intensive of all Census 2000 operations. The Census Bureau spent $1.2 billion and used more than 500,000 enumerators to obtain census information from 42 million nonresponding households in less than 10 weeks. Because of this colossal workload, even small variations in productivity had significant cost implications. Workload and enumerator productivity have historically been two of the largest drivers of census costs, and the Bureau developed its budget model for the 2000 Census using key assumptions about these two variables. Nationally, enumerators completed their nonresponse follow-up workload at a rate of 1.04 housing units per hour--slightly exceeding the Bureau's expected rate of 1.03 housing units per hour. Productivity varied for the four primary types of local census offices, ranging from 0.90 housing units per hour in inner-city and urban areas to 1.10 cases per hour in rural areas. In refining the data, the Bureau corrected what it considered to be the most significant discrepancy--a misclassification of some employees' time charges that overstated the number of hours worked by nonresponse follow-up enumerators and understated enumerator production rates."
Date: October 4, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Complete Costs of Coverage Evaluation Programs Are Not Available

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To assess the quality of the population data collected in the 2000 Census, the U.S. Census Bureau conducted the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (A.C.E.) program, which focused on a survey of housing units designed to estimate the number of people missed, counted more than once, or otherwise improperly counted in the census. GAO reviewed the life cycle costs of the A.C.E. program and its predecessor, the Integrated Coverage Measurement (ICM) program. GAO found that the original estimated cycle costs of conducting the ICM/A.C.E. programs were $400 million. The first evidence for the original $400 million estimate is in the original budget justifications for fiscal year 2000. The bureau based its estimates of ICM/A.C.E. costs on assumptions about the needs for personnel and benefits, contractual services, travel, office space, equipment, and other costs necessary to conduct and support operations of the programs. The budgeted amounts that GAO identified from bureau records for conducting the ICM/A.C.E. programs are $277 million through fiscal year 2003. The obligated costs that GAO identified from bureau records for conducting the ICM/A.C.E. programs are $207 million through fiscal year 2001. $58 million of budgeted funds for the ICM/A.C.E. programs that GAO identified from bureau records were not obligated through fiscal year 2001. The ICM/A.C.E. program-related costs that GAO identified from bureau records for the 1998 dress rehearsal were $11 million budgeted and $9 million obligated."
Date: October 31, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Contingency Planning Needed to Address Risks That Pose a Threat to a Successful Census

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Year 2000 census, focusing on: (1) the need to boost the declining level of public participation in the census; and (2) the Census Bureau's need to collect timely and accurate data from nonrespondents."
Date: December 14, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Coverage Evaluation Interviewing Overcame Challenges, but Further Research Needed

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "As part of its Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (ACE), the U.S. Census Bureau interviewed people across the country to develop an estimate of the number of persons missed, counted more than once, or otherwise improperly counted in the 2000 census. In conducting the interviews, which took place in person or over the phone, Census faced several challenges, including (1) completing the operation on schedule, (2) ensuring data quality, (3) overcoming unexpected computer problems, (4) obtaining a quality address list, and (5) keeping the interviews independent of census follow-up operations to ensure unbiased estimates of census errors. The Bureau completed the interviews largely ahead of schedule. On the basis of the results of its quality assurance program, the Bureau assumes that about one-tenth of one percent of all cases nationally would have failed the program because they were believed to have been falsified. Early on, the Bureau dealt with an unexpected problem with its automated work management system, which allows supervisors to selectively reassign work among interviewers. According to the Bureau officials, the Bureau addressed the underlying programming error within two weeks, and the operations proceeded on schedule. The address list used for interviews had fewer nonexistent listings than did the lists used by the major census questionnaire delivery operations. An accurate address list is important to prevent unnecessary and costly efforts to locate nonexistent addresses. Although the Bureau implemented controls to keep the nonresponse operation separate from the interviews, the assumed independence of the census and ACE was put at risk because another follow-up operation intended to improve census coverage overlapped with the interviews."
Date: December 31, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Coverage Evaluation Matching Implemented as Planned, but Census Bureau Should Evaluate Lessons Learned

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The U.S. Census Bureau conducted the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (ACE) survey to estimate the number of people missed, counted more than once, or otherwise improperly counted in the 2000 Census. On the basis of uncertainty in the ACE results, the Bureau's acting director decided that the 2000 Census tabulations should not be adjusted in order to redraw the boundaries of congressional districts or to distribute billions of dollars in federal funding. Although ACE was generally implemented as planned, the Bureau found that it overstated census undercounts because of an error introduced during matching operations and other uncertainties. The Bureau concluded that additional review and analysis of these uncertainties would be needed before the data could be used. Matching more than 1.4 million census and ACE records involved the following four phases, each with its own matching procedures and multiple layers of review: computer matching, clerical matching, field follow-up, and clerical matching. The Bureau applied quality assurance procedures to each phase of person matching. Because the quality assurance procedures had failure rates of less than one percent, the Bureau reported that person matching quality assurance was successful at minimizing errors. Overall, the Bureau carried out person matching as planned, with few procedural deviations. GAO identified areas for improving future ACE efforts, including more complete documentation of computer matching decisions and better assurance that problems do not arise with the bureau's automated systems."
Date: March 14, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Coverage Measurement Programs' Results, Costs, and Lessons Learned

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To help measure the quality of the 2000 Census and to possibly adjust for any errors, the U.S. Census Bureau (Bureau) conducted the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (A.C.E.) program. However, after obligating around $207 million for A.C.E. and its predecessor program, Integrated Coverage Measurement (I.C.M.), from fiscal years 1996 through 2001, the Bureau did not use either program to adjust the census numbers. Concerned about the amount of money the Bureau spent on I.C.M. and A.C.E. programs and what was produced in return, the subcommittee asked us to review the objectives and results of the programs, the costs of consultants, and how best to track future coverage measurement activities."
Date: January 29, 2003
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Headquarters Processing System Status and Risks

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The accuracy of the 2000 decennial census depends in part on the proper functioning of 10 interrelated information systems, one of which is the Census Bureau's headquarters (HQ) processing system. The HQ processing system consists of 48 applications, all developed internally by the Bureau, that support various census operations, such as updating address files, creating a file of census responses, and preparing data for tabulation and dissemination. GAO found that the Bureau lacks effective, mature software and system development processes to control development of its HQ processing system applications."
Date: October 17, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Information on Short- and Long-Form Response Rates

Description: Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on short- and long-form questionnaire response rates, focusing on the: (1) 2000 Census; (2) 1998 Census Dress Rehearsal; (3) 1990 Census; and (4) 1988 Census Dress Rehearsal."
Date: June 7, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Information on the Implications of a Post Census Local Review Program

Description: Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on how census operations and data accuracy could be affected if the Bureau of the Census were to include a coverage improvement program known as Post Census Local Review (PCLR) in the 2000 census."
Date: October 13, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Lessons Learned for Planning a More Cost-Effective 2010 Census

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "GAO reviewed the funding of 2000 Census planning and development efforts and the impact it had on census operations. Total funding for the 2000 Census, referred to as the life cycle cost, covers a 13-year period from fiscal year 1991 through fiscal year 2003 and is expected to total $6.5 billion adjusted to 2000 year dollars. This amount was almost double the reported life cycle cost of the 1990 Census of $3.3 billion adjusted to 2000 year dollars. Considering these escalating costs, the experience of the U.S. Census Bureau in preparing for the 2000 Census offers valuable insights for the planning and development efforts now occurring for the 2010 Census. Thorough and comprehensive planning and development efforts are crucial to the ultimate efficiency and success of any large, long-term project, particularly one with the scope, magnitude, and the deadlines of the U.S. decennial census. For fiscal years 1991 through 1997, $269 million was requested in the President's Budgets for 2000 Census planning and development and the program received funding of $224 million by Congress, or 83 percent of the amount requested. According to U.S. Census Bureau records, the bulk of the $86 million in funding received through the end of fiscal year 1995 was obligated for program development and evaluation methodologies, testing and dress rehearsals, and planning for the acquisition of automated data processing and telecommunications support. The U.S. Census Bureau was responsible for carrying out its mission within the budget provided and bureau management determined the specific areas in which available resources were invested. GAO could not determine what effect, if any, that higher funding levels might have had on bureau operations as this is dependent upon actual implementation and the results of management decisions ...
Date: October 31, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Local Address Review Program Has Had Mixed Results to Date

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the implementation of the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program, focusing on: (1) the Bureau of the Census' operational experience to date in implementing LUCA; and (2) local governments' views of the adequacy of local resources to conduct LUCA and of the quality of materials and assistance the Bureau has provided."
Date: September 29, 1999
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: New Data Capture System Progress and Risks

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Bureau of the Census' Data Capture System (DCS) 2000 for the tabulation of 2000 census data, focusing on the status and quality of DCS 2000, as well as the risks Census faces in successfully completing the system."
Date: February 4, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Progress Report on the Mail Response Rate and Key Operations

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the status of key 2000 census-taking operations, focusing on: (1) the mail response rate and the implications it has for timely and accurate completion of the Bureau of the Census' nonresponse follow-up workload; (2) update/leave procedure, which is used to count people in certain small towns and rural areas; (3) Service-Based Enumeration, used to count persons with no usual residence; and (4) Questionnaire Assistance Centers, which are designed to help people, especially those with limited English skills, complete their census forms."
Date: April 5, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Refinements to Full Count Review Program Could Improve Future Data Quality

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To ensure the completeness and accuracy of the 2000 census data, Bureau of the Census analysts were to identify, investigate, and document suspected data discrepancies or issues to clear census data files and products for subsequent processing or public release. They were to determine whether and how to correct the data by weighing quality improvements against time and budget constraints. Because the bureau lacked sufficient staff to conduct a full count review on its own, it contracted out some of the work to members of the Federal-State Cooperative Program for Population Estimates (FSCPE). FSCPE documented 1,402 data issues, 29 percent of the 4,809 issues identified by both FSCPE and bureau analysts during the full count review. Of the 4,809 issues, 1,599 dealt with "group quarters," where counts for prisons, nursing homes, dormitories, and other group living facilities differed from what analysts expected. Of the 1,599 group quarters issues, FSCPE identified 567. Discrepancies relating to housing unit counts, population data, and demographic characteristics accounted for 1,150 issues, 375 of which were identified by FSCPE. Overall, of the 4,809 issues identified during review, 4,267 were not subjected to further investigation by the bureau because of insufficient documentation. Because the bureau's preliminary plans for the 2010 Census include a Full Count Review program, several areas warrant improvement. Foremost among these is the need for the bureau to investigate and resolve a larger number of issues before releasing the public law data."
Date: July 3, 2002
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Review of Partnership Program Highlights Best Practices for Future Operations

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "To take a more complete and accurate count of the nation's population in the 2000 Census, the Bureau of the Census partnered with other federal agencies, as well as with state, local, and tribal governments; religious, community, and social service organizations; and private businesses. According to the Bureau, about 140,000 organizations participated in the partnership program by assisting in such critical activities as reviewing and updating the Bureau's address list, encouraging people--especially hard-to-count populations--to participate in the census, and recruiting temporary census employees. GAO found that the Bureau spent about $142.9 million on its partnership program, or about two percent of the estimated $6.5 billion the Bureau allocated for the census and an average of about $1.19 for each of the 120 million households that the Bureau estimates are in the nation. The Bureau staffed the partnership program with 594 full-time positions, of which 560 were allocated to the field, while the remaining slots were located in the Bureau's headquarters. Decisions on which organizations to partner with and what events to attend were governed by unwritten guidelines and criteria and were driven by the Bureau's desire to collaborate with virtually any organization that would support the census. The Bureau made the census logo available on its Internet site and encouraged partners to use the logo to help promote the census. However, the Bureau did not have any written guidance on how partners could characterize their association with the Bureau or what constituted appropriate use of the census logo. The Bureau has since prepared written guidelines for making decisions on partnership engagements. However, the guidelines fall short in that they still do not address how partners may (1) characterize their associations with the Bureau and (2) use ...
Date: August 20, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Significant Increase in Cost Per Housing Unit Compared to 1990 Census

Description: A letter report issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "The estimated $6.5 billion full-cycle cost of the 2000 decennial census is nearly double that of the 1990 census. When the full-cycle cost is divided by the number of American households, the cost per housing unit of the 2000 census was $56 compared to $32 per housing unit for the 1990 census. The primary reasons for the cost increases include the following: (1) in the 1990 census, field data collection cost was $16 per housing unit, while in the 2000 census it was $32 per housing unit; (2) in the 1990 census, technology costs were $5 per housing unit compared to $8 per housing unit for the 2000 census; and (3) the data content and products activity cost $3 per housing unit in 1990 and $5 per housing unit in 2000."
Date: December 11, 2001
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Status of Key Operations

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed its recent reports regarding the operational uncertainties of the status of the 2000 Census, focusing on: (1) achieving the Bureau of the Census' mail response rate objective; (2) collecting accurate and timely data from nonrespondents; and (3) conducting data capture operations."
Date: February 15, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Status of Nonresponse Follow-up and Key Operations

Description: Testimony issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the progress of the nonresponse follow-up operation of the 2000 Census, focusing on the: (1) response rate and its impact on the nonresponse follow-up workload; (2) Bureau of the Census' ability to complete nonresponse follow-up on schedule while maintaining data quality; (3) Bureau's efforts to redeliver questionnaires initially found to be undeliverable; and (4) status of the Bureau's data capture operations."
Date: May 11, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.

2000 Census: Update on Data Capture Operations and System

Description: Correspondence issued by the General Accounting Office with an abstract that begins "Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Bureau of the Census' progress in: (1) performing first-pass data capture operations, including the performance of the Data Capture System 2000; (DCS) and (2) modifying DCS 2000 to perform planned second-pass data capture operations."
Date: September 29, 2000
Creator: United States. General Accounting Office.